A Strategy for Christlikeness - Philippians 2:5 ff

Dr. Steve Viars October 2, 1990 Philippians 2:5

- we're studying favorite Bible verses

- we've got some folks visiting with us tonight - so maybe it

would be a good time to step back and think about what

we're trying to accomplish with this series, and what we're

trying to avoid:

- INPUT - what are some dangers of a series that emphasizes

or recommends memorizing verses of Scripture?

(memorize just for the sake of memorizing,

pride that could result)

- INPUT - what are we trying to accomplish with this


- trying to change by the word - must know some

things about the Word in order to do that

- want to have Bible passages and ideas in our

minds so we're ready when a trial or temtation

comes our way

- we've been trying to use different methods of review each


- sometimes I've given the reference and had you recite the


- other nights I've read the verse and had you give the


- let's do it differently tonight by combining those two


- sometimes I'll give the reference, you give the verse

- sometimes I'll give the verse, you give the reference:

- let me encourage you to jot down the reference of the ones

you don't know, and work on them this week

- Zech. 4:6 -Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,

saith the Lord

- Phil. 1:21 - For to me to live is Christ, to die is gain

- Isa. 40:31 - They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their

strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they

shall run and not be weary. they shall walk and not faint

- Rom 8:28-29a - And we know that all things work together

for good to them who love God, to them who are the called

according to his purpose, for whom he did foreknow, them

he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of

His Son

- Prov. 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and

lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways

acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths

- Phil. 4:4 - Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say


- Gal. 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ and I no longer

live, but Christ lives in me, and the life that I now

life in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who

loved me and gave himself for me

- Eph. 4:22-24 - That ye put off concerning the former manner

of life the old man which is corrupt according to the

deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your

mind, and that ye put on the new man which after God is

created in righteousness and true holiness

- John 3:16 - For God so loved the world that he gave his

only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should

not perish, but have everlasting life

- Matthew 28:19-20 - Go ye therefore, and teach all nations,

baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son,

and of the Holy Spirit, Teaching them to observe all

things, whatsoever I have commanded you, and lo, I am

with you always, even unto the end of the age

- Isa. 26:3 - Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind

is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee

- Tonight's passage is a group of three verses - I realize,

that might make it a little more difficult to memorize,


1) some of you probably have at least part of this

passage memorized

2) these verses really have to be understood as a unit

3) these verses are such a key to our belief in how a

person changes and grows, that we need to get these


- Phil. 2:5-8 (READ)

- tonight from this passage I'd like us to see three ways

you & I can become more like Christ


- For the person who may be new or just recently saved, why

should the proposition I just gave be appealing?

- i.e., why should a person be concerned about whether

they are like Christ or not?

- repeat proposition

I. A Controlled Mind

- let this mind be in you, which is also in Christ Jesus

A. Gives Hope!

- INPUT - why does that statement give hope?

- indicates that we can change our thinking

- INPUT - what other passages can you think of that

emphasize the important truth that I need to be

changing my thinking?

B. Other Passages

- Eph. 4:23

- Rom. 12:1-2

C. How Does This Tie In With Our Other "Favorite Bible


- INPUT - when you think about it, many of the

favorite Bible passages that we've studied tell us

about ways we need to change our thinking

- let's take a minute and think that through

- How would you fill in the blanks in this statement

using the info. from our fav. Bible verses?

- Because of ______________, we need to change our

thinking about________________

- I'll do the first one for us - "Because of Isa.

26:3, I need to change my hopeless thoughts that

would say-I can never have peace in the midst of

this situation

D. How This Differs From A Performance Mentality

- INPUT - I want to get on to the next part of the

verses - but I think there is one more thing we

need to say about changing our thinking

- I think we need to touch on how what we're talking

about here is different than a "performance

mentality" in the Christian life

- what I mean by a performance mentality to the

Christian life is that the a person determines

his/her spirituality solely on the basis of the

list of things he does or the list of things he

doesn't do

INPUT - how is what we're talking about here

different than that?

- Some believers have learned to "jump through a set

of hoops" but whose minds are a mental jungle

- there minds are a place that has not been tamed

- none of us have tamed them completely, but the

issue here is, do you see the necessity of placing

a major amount of effort and emphasis on that area?

- see, one of the reasons some folks aren't growing

is because they get their list of do's and don’ts -

and once they get everything on the list checked

off-they're done growing

- so they attend church, work on the bus route,

attend visitation on Thursday night - those are the

tests of spirituality in that particular church -

folks stop growing

- I'm all for attending church and some of those

other kinds of things - but not apart from a view

of the Christian life that is committed to

identifying sinful habits of thinking and rooting

up sinful habits of thinking

- let me ask you one question and then we'll leave

this one

- if its true that God says we can become more like

Christ by having a mind that is more and more

controlled by the Word of God, how committed are

you to that process?

- we're saying that part of our strategy for

Christliktness is a controlled mind - I have to ask

the question - how controlled is my mind?

- how much work am I doing in that area?

- could you speak of times recently where you

wrestled with your own mind and said – that’s a

sinful way of thinking, I've got to change that


II. A Selfless Focus

- I thought quite a while before selecting the title for

this point because I realize those words could be

misunderstood or misapplied, but I still think we'll

see that these words best represent what the verses are


- Read vs. 7-8

A. Christ emptied Himself

- you might look at verse 7 and say - PV, I don't see

those words (depending on your Bible version)

- they are there - they are just translated a little


- KJV - made himself of no reputation

- NIV - made Himself nothing

- NASB - emptied Himself

- the word that is being translated there is the

Greek word Kenow - "empty"

- that’s why this passage is sometimes called the

kenosis passage

- you might say - what does it mean that Christ

emptied Himself?

1. what that means theologically

- when Christ came to earth, He laid aside the

independent use of some of His divine attributes

- we need to think this through

- its easy for us to talk about being more like

Christ, but this is one area that’s hard to apply

- here's why I think that’s true - When we think

about emptying ourselves or being selfless - we

think of some of the bad things we need to empty

ourselves of

- in fact, when I flashed the point up there, your

first thought might have been - yea, I need to

be less selfish

- but that’s obviously not what we're talking about here

- Christ wasn't giving something up because it was wrong

or because He shouldn't be doing that

- for you and for me, He was giving up things that

rightfully belonged to Him

- in fact, let's take a minute to think of some things

that Christ gave up when He came to earth

2. what that means practically

INPUT - what comes to your mind?

- worship (what did He get instead?)

- fellowship with host of God, OT saints

- heavenly "conditions"

3. what that means to you and me

- now I want to be very careful with the way I

develop this, but let me ask you to think for a

moment about all the things you have (some of

them material, some immaterial)

- I'm not talking about things you have that you


- I'm talking about things that rightfully belong

to you.

- things like - your spouse, job, career, respect,


INPUT - what else would you add to that


- try to get those things in your mind

- then let me ask this question - What of that

would you be willing to give up if you were

convinced it would help you be more of God's

kind of person?

- not saying this - we need to go sell everything we have

because that would be really spiritual - this passage

is dealing with the inner man, it would be a tragedy

to make it legalistic

- also not saying that God wants us to be as miserable as

possible, so we ought to sell our electric blankets

(some of us would draw the line there), etc.

- but we need to face the truth of this point - We say we

want to be like Christ

- Christ emptied himself of things that rightfully

belonged to Him

- now I hope we won't be like Peter - "Though I should

die with thee, yet will I not deny thee"

- I think we need to very carefully ask the question -

are there things in this category that I wouldn't be

willing to give up even if I was sure I could be kind

of person?

- when I ask that question - one of the first things I

think of is Bethany

- what if God wanted to use her as a missionary (she's

our only child)

- what if God would be pleased to glorify Himself by

allowing a tragedy to come into her life like he did

with the pastor's daughter we talked about last week,

or worse?

- now that all hypothetical, and I think there's value in

dealing with this hypothetically

- but I'm especially concerned with the person who

would be here tonight who would say

- I know there are some things I need to lay

aside so I could be more used of God, but

I'm not going to do it

- it might be the person who says - I deserve to have a

career - if that means I have to be gone so much I

can't have time to bring my family up in the nurture

and admonition of the Lord, so be it

- I've got to have respect of those around me - if that

means I can't talk to Christ because they'll think less

of me, so be it

- Jesus Christ emptied Himself, and if we're to be like Him,

we must be willing to do the same

- by the way - we couldn't have pulled off the two

conferences we've had in the last two weeks if it wasn't

for people who believed the truth of this verse

- we couldn't have built a parking lot and paid for it if

it wasn't for this verse

- see, Christ had a selfless focus because He emptied Himself

- He also had a selfless focus because He:

B. Humbled Himself

- (according to verse 8)

- INPUT - what question comes to your mind when you

see that we've structured the outline this way

and these verses say that Christ emptied Himself

and humbled Himself? (what's the difference?)

- word humbled literally means "make low"

- of course the verse says our Lord did that to


- He made himself low

- question was - how is humbled himself different

than emptying himself

- Its best to understand emptied himself (from verse

7) to address what Christ gave up, but humbled

himself in verse 8 to address what additional

humility Christ took on

- now you might ask, how does that deal with the

argument of the passage?

- I would be best to supply the word further in verse


- obviously the act of emptying himself was humbling,

but Paul reserved that word for the ultimate

humility, the cross

INPUT - Why would the cross be so humiliating?

- because it was the most disgraceful death a

person could die (not even allowed for a Roman


- Deut. 21:22-23 - READ

- Matt. 27:45-46 - My God, My God....

- let me just stop and say, that if you're here

tonight and you don't have a personal

relationship with God

- you don't know for sure that if you died, you'd

be on your way to heaven

- you know that you've been living for yourself but

that kind of lifestyle has no peace or joy

- listen, Jesus did what we're talking about

tonight so that you could be saved

- so that your sin could be forgiven

- so that you could experience new life in Him

- If you've never made that decision, I'd sure

like to talk to you about that

- If you have trusted Christ as Savior, then we need to

say that God recorded this in this passage so that you

and I could be growing by becoming more and more


- in fact, that’s exactly what the context is talking

about - read vs. 3-4

- perhaps that comes from first reflecting on just how

much Christ did have to empty himself of and humble

himself in order to provide our salvation

- one of the questions I had to ask myself as I was

preparing these verses was - when's the last time you

gave that some concentrated thought?

- this is a passage about serving - but God doesn't want

to motivate us in that area by legalism, he wants to

motivate us by His grace

- now let me just ask you tonight - do those two words

describe you (emptied himself and humbled himself)

- are you willing to let go of what you perceive to be

your rights and take on humble attitude or tasks that

aren't necessarily your fault or your job?

- Now I'd like to say two quick things about that


1) we've got some folks who really do well in that area

- watched the college/career and singles group go

around and clean the building Sunday night

- others who served food, worked with registrations,

worked in the sound room

- many people serving in many ways

- point is - they weren't saying things like – that’s

not my job - its not my conference - I'm not even


- or, I have a right to some rest, free time

- instead, they emptied themselves and humbled


2) "succeeding" in this area in one facet of life doesn't

necessarily mean success in another

- see, you might be responding to these verses with,

well, I do that at church, or I do that with my

boss, etc.

- I'm obeying these verses

INPUT - what question do we need to ask about that?

- in what areas are you not?

- how high would your family rank you on the

emptying and humbling scale

- perhaps one of the greatest things you could do

with these verses would be to say to your spouse

- Honey, what step of growth do I need to take to

apply these verses more

- now there's one more principle that comes out of these

verses that I think wraps these two points together

- I purposely skipped over this concept earlier

- I can have a controlled mind, especially in the area of

being more selfless if I have:

III. Non-Grasping Hands

- I realize that phrase sounds a little unorthodox, but

it does fit well with what verse 6 says

- "he thought it not robbery to be equal with God"

- literally means "did not regard equality with God as

something to be grasped"

- see, why is it that at times we have difficulty

controlling our minds? having a emptying and humbling


- because our hands are tightly clenched

- earlier I asked, in what situation do you have

the difficulty being "emptying or humbling"

- now let me factor this in - in those situations, what's

in your hands?

Dr. Steve Viars


Senior Pastor - Faith Church

Director - Faith Legacy Foundation


B.S.: Pre-Seminary & Bible, Baptist Bible College (Now Clarks Summit University)
M.Div.: Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min.: Biblical Counseling, Westminster Theological Seminary

Dr. Steve Viars has served at Faith Church in Lafayette, IN since 1987. Pastor Viars leads and equips Faith Church as Senior Pastor with a focus on preaching and teaching God’s Word and using his organizational skills in guiding the implementation of the Faith Church mission and vision. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith Church ministries. Dr. Viars serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation. Steve is the author, co-author, or contributor to six books and numerous booklets. He and his wife, Kris, were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and five grandchildren.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video